NGO's to launch 'satyagrah' against ban on common salt

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New Delhi, Mar 13 (UNI) Severely critising the UPA government for banning sale of common salt, several NGO's today announced that they will launch a nation-wide 'satyagrah' on April 6 against the ''anti-poor'' decision.

Raising cudgels on behalf of thousands of salt workers whose livelihood will be affected by the move, were Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, veteran journalist Kuldeep Nayyar and social activist Sandeep Pandey.

Mr Gandhi said as Mahatma Gandhi had broken the British law banning Indians from making common salt on April 6, 1930, in Dandi a 'satyagrah' will be launched on the same date here against the Congress-led government.

''The Father of the Nation fought for this right of the common man and this government is denying them the same right under pressure from multi national companies,'' he added.

He said since iodine deficiency was reported only from a few areas in the country, thrusting iodised salt on people across the nation was not justified.

Under the garb of ''health hazard'' the poor in the country are being denied the right to make and buy common salt, Mr Gandhi said.

''The iodised salt is five times more costly that common salt ... how will a poor man be able to afford the iodised salt?'' he added.

On April 6, Mr Gandhi and social activist Medha Patkar will lead a rally till Parliament and burn copies of the ban order.

Save Common Salt Campaign Committee, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, National Alliance of Peoples' Movements, Asha Parivar, Lok Raj Sangathan and the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) will participate in the protest.

Mr Gandhi said he was disappointed that the Congress-led government had banned common salt after celebrating 75 years of 'Dandi March' last year.

He said the salt workers will be further exploited by the giant foreign companies after the ban comes into force from May 17.

Mr Nayyar said the government must make iodised salt available at subsidized rates through the Public Distribution System in the areas where its deficiency is prevalent.

He said iodine can also be introduced for human beings by several sources, including pulses, nuts, fruits, milk and vegetables.

''How is that suddenly common salt is dangerous and has been banned when far more harmful things like tobacco and cigarettes continue to be sold in the free market?'' he added.

Pointing out that excess iodine caused diabetes, skin cancer, hyperthyroidism and other ailments, Mr Nayyar said an unsafe compound Potassium Iodate was being used in India instead of Potassium Iodide which is safe.

UNI NR LR KN1706

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